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There’s No Place Like Home: Top Benefits of Going to College In-State

Going to school in-state could help you avoid overwhelming student debt

If you’re a high school Junior or Senior and know you’re heading to college after graduation, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Not only are you hip deep in prepping for the ACT and SAT, but you’re also trying to decide where to go. You’re researching schools that have the programs you want, but you also have a huge decision to make: Stay local or make the break and head out of state for college.

For many, going away for school is a rite of passage, and state universities often have a bad rap. As you’re heading out on your own, take a look at some huge benefits of going to college in-state.

In-State Tuition

Yup, you guessed it. The number one benefit to going to college in-state is the tuition. If you’re planning on student loans and having a job to pay for school, this could clinch it. It often costs three times more to go out of state than it is to stay within your home state’s borders.

For example, if you live in Michigan, you can attend the state school for less than $16,000 your freshman year. First-year students coming from other states pay more than $50,000. Same school, classes, books and dorms, but coming from across the state line. Many state schools, such as the University of Baltimore, are less than $10,000 for local students, while those coming from out of state pay nearly $30,000.

Bottom Line: The biggest benefit of going to college in-state is that it can help you avoid a boatload of student debt.

Networking Prospects

By going to college in-state, you’re closer to the network of contacts you created while growing up in the area. This includes employers at the jobs you’ve held and businesspeople you know through work, family connections and friends. The connections you make before and during college can help you take advantage of job opportunities after graduation.

Bottom Line: An extensive network that has built over time could help you jumpstart your career with the right contacts.


Community-based organizations, state schools and corporations often offer scholarships to in-state students. State scholarships can be career-specific, merit or needs-based. There may also be scholarships based on your community, county and region within the state.

Bottom Line: You don’t have to pay scholarships back, making it “free” money for school.

Top-Notch Education

Yes, getting away from your home turf can give you a different perspective and school experience, but it may not give you a better education. Public universities are the most reasonably priced for state residents, but many students come in from out-of-state because they offer the best programs and career opportunities.

For example, if you grew up around the Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Walla Walla Valley or other wine country regions in Washington, you may be looking at the Viticulture programs at UC Davis or Cornell. Did you know that one of the top programs in the country is at Washington State University? The program is small, personalized and close to the vineyards, making it easier to get internships and job opportunities.

Bottom Line: Don’t overlook top college programs just because they are nearby.

Even if you’ve always assumed you’d be going out of state for your college degree, keep the big picture in mind. Discuss your expectations and program requirements with your family then start narrowing down your list. When you get to the nitty-gritty like budget and opportunities, you may find that going to college in-state offers the best of both worlds – the on-campus college experience and lower student debt.

Scholar Compass helps students and their families find scholarships, prepare for college entrance interviews and study abroad programs. Learn more or contact us today to get started, whether you’re going to college in-state or looking farther away.

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